Jews captured in Warsaw Ghetto uprising.
Courtesy of USHMM Photo Archives
Spiritual, Educational, and Physical Resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto
Sol A. Factor
Cleveland Heights High School
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Students have studied the organizing of the ghettoes in Eastern Europe by
the Nazis. It is now time for the students to learn that the ghetto inhabitants
were not passive captives, but rather showed their resistance to their situation
in many different forms. The current lesson focuses on the initial movement to
the Warsaw Ghetto, and the very beginnings of resistance. The lesson is
part of a six-day unit which is available in its entirety at the
Holocaust Teacher Resource Center
(TRC) web site.
- Students will understand the geographic dimensions of the Warsaw Ghetto.
- Students will be able to cite several of the legal and physical methods used by the Nazis in moving the Jews to the ghetto.
- Students will be able to cite several examples of physical effects upon the ghetto inhabitants due to life inside the Warsaw Ghetto.
- Students will be able to give at least one example of educational and cultural resistance displayed by the inhabitants of the ghetto.
One class period of at
least 50-55 minutes.
Procedure / Strategy
- Mini lecture and discussion
Students are reminded of what we have talked about concerning the formation of the ghettos by the Nazis. Included in this section is the distribution of a map of the City of Warsaw showing the actual boundaries of the ghetto. Mini lecture concludes with the introduction of key vocabulary terms.
- Supplemental readings
Students receive various articles such as The Resettlement Aktionen in
Warsaw, The Appearance of the Jewish Quarter, and A Jewish Family Leaves
Home. These readings enhance the students understanding of the methods used in resettlement to the ghetto, as well as the personal experience of a family in leaving their home and moving to the ghetto. There is also, in the last reading, an example of resistance. Students are encouraged to give their reactions to the various
readings as well as to pose questions.
Students view excerpts from the following videos: A Day in the Warsaw
Ghetto, War and Love, Schindlerís List. Each of these enhance the studentsí understanding of the process of creating the ghetto, moving the Jews to the ghetto, and some of the early forms of educational and cultural resistance.
Schindlerís List, while not about the Warsaw Ghetto, does an excellent job at presenting very graphically, the steps taken in creating a ghetto, moving the Jews, and the early impact upon the residents of the ghetto.
- Reaction essay
The final activity, which becomes a written homework assignment, is a short reading from
Vladka Meedís "Jewish Resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto," which deals with the development of educational and cultural institutions within the ghetto. Students are assigned a one-page reaction essay on a quote from Chaim Kaplanís diary:
Every Dance is a Protest Against Our Oppressors
Materials / Resources
- Dvergetzki, Dr. M. A Jewish Family
Leaves Home (Teachersí Institute on the Holocaust) Yad Vashem.
- Meed, Vladka. "Jewish Resistance in the Warsaw
Ghetto." Dimensions, Vol. 7 No. 2, 1993.
Note: This reading is provided in an online
version (Microsoft Word document) by permission of the publisher.
- The Road to the Final Solution. Ohio Holocaust Curriculum Guide, 1988.
- YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. "Warsaw Ghetto: Discussion
Guide." Dimensions, Vol. 7 No. 2, 1993.
- A Day in the Warsaw Ghetto. New York: Filmakers Library, 1991
segment: Layout of the Ghetto).
- Schindler's List. MCA Universal Home Video,
1993. (Movement to the Ghetto).
- War and Love. MGM Home
Entertainment, 1984. (Movement to the
ghetto and early youth resistance).
Evaluation / Assessment
- The quality of the reaction essays in the assignment mentioned above.
- The ability, in discussions, for students to connect information presented in lectures, readings, and video presentations, to the formation of the Warsaw Ghetto.
- The number of questions that students ask about the information presented to them.
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